1979 Ford LTD: For 1979, Ford introduced the Panther platform, downsizing the Ford LTD. In comparison to its 1978 predecessor, the 1979 Ford LTD shed approximately 15-inches of body length and 7-inches of wheelbase. Depending on powertrain, the Panther chassis shed over 700 pounds in curb weight. While slightly narrower overall, the body design also led to increased interior and trunk space. The lighter Panther chassis and body displaced the need for the large-block 400 and 460 V8’s. Ford made the metric-displacement 4.9L V8 (302) standard and a 5.8L V8 (351) optional.

1980 Ford LTD: For 1980, trim levels were revised, with the base trim becoming the LTD S and the LTD Landau replaced by the LTD Crown Victoria, with the standard LTD in between. The Ford equivalent of the Mercury Grand Marquis, the LTD Crown Victoria drew its name from a styling element, a brushed aluminum band covering the B-pillar and the roof, influenced by its 1955-1956 Ford Fairlane namesake.

All LTD S models are easily identified by their two headlights (versus four for the higher priced models).

1981 – The ‘P72’ Is Born

P72 is actually a VIN (Vehicle Identification Nunber) code. Prior to 1981, cars were assigned an 11-character VIN number. The federal government required all vehicles to have a 17-character VIN starting in 1981.

Looking at the cars VIN tag:

The 5th position in the VIN is ‘P’ for Passenger Car.

The 6th and 7th characters indicate the vehicle line. ’72’ is a Crown Victoria, base-fleet, 4-door sedan. This was used to identify police-package cars from 1981 to 1992. This code also identifies all non-police fleet vehicles (Taxis, Service Vehicles, Government, etc.).

1982 Ford LTD: The 351W was now standard in the police models, but unavailable to the general public except for those living outside of the United States. The AOD automatic transmission with overdrive became standard equipment on all models.

In 1982, the entire Ford line was reintroduced to the traditional Ford Blue Oval, making its way onto the LTD’s grille and trunk lid.

1983 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: With the introduction of Ford’s new midsize LTD, the fullsize LTD was renamed the LTD Crown Victoria. This change also did away with the S-model LTD that came with only two headlights.

1984 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: EEC-IV debuted on the CFI 5.0L (302) in the Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln lines and the engine received and additional 10 horsepower. The police 351W also picked up a few horses on paper, going from 165 to 180. The AOD received a new valvebody design, for which aftermarket shift kits are available for.

1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: A federally mandated third brake light was added to all Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles very late in the model year.

1986 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection (SEFI) became standard across the board (including police and Canadian models). The 351W was now optional on the police models, still sporting its carburetor and MCU setup similar to 1982 models. Roller camshafts and lifters (and compatible blocks) replaced flat-tappet versions in the 5.0L, although the technical specs of the camshaft remained the same. The Throttle Valve linkage to the transmission used a unique, one year only design. This design is said to be a better design than that of the 1987-1991 models (which commonly have issues with the grommet breaking at the throttle body, quickly resulting in transmission damage).

1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: An electronic clock, tinted glass, and air conditioning became standard on everything but Ford fleet models (these features could be deleted for credit). Beginning this year, especially on models bound for California, a yellow “Check Engine” light appeared on the instrument cluster, replacing the “Check Oil” light. It is not common.

1988 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: Two-Door LTD Crown Victoria’s were now history. New “Aero” styling changed the looks of the front and back of the Crown Victoria slightly. The LTD emblem was deleted from the turbine wheel center caps, a Ford Blue Oval on a silver background replaced the red background LTD emblem. Oddly enough, a revised LTD emblem showed up in a new area, the new hood ornament.

1989 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: Early in the model year, all Panther’s finally received a Check Engine Light.

1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: The LTD Crown Victoria received drivers’ side airbags, rear shoulder seatbelts, and a tilt steering wheel standard. This went along with a completely updated dash and black background speedometer. Unnoticed to an average driver, the floorboard/firewall design was changed. Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis front door speaker grilles changed design slightly. Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis Turbine wheels began to use argent coloring instead of charcoal. The tripminder was no longer an option on Ford or Mercury models – it didn’t fit into the new dash design. Power windows and locks, along with the deluxe armrests with ashtrays were made standard on all models.

The 351W police/Canadian Crown Victoria’s switched “throttle valve” setups, finally moving away from the rod actuated system.

1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria: This would be the last year for the Ford LTD Crown Victoria. Clear parking light lenses on the Crown Victoria appeared for the first time since 1979.

The 351W police models still utilized their variable venturi carburetor and MCU with EEC-II technology from 1979. It is rumored that the 351W police Crown Victoria was the last American mass-produced car with a carburetor.

Police Interceptor: Although the Ford LTD Crown Victoria P72 could be ordered as a police vehicle, it did not carry the ‘Police Interceptor’ name. That would come several years later.


Vehicle Engine Comp HP Axle Ratio
1979 Ford LTD 302/5.0L 2-bbl 8.4 129 3.08
1979 Ford LTD 351W/5.8L 2-vv 8.3 142 3.08
1980 Ford LTD / LTD-S 302/5.0L 2-bbl 8.4 130 2.26
1980 Ford LTD 351W/5.8L 2-vv 8.3 140 3.08
1981 Ford LTD 255/4.2L 2-bbl 8.2 120 3.08
1981 Ford LTD 302/5.0L 2-bbl 8.4 130 3.08
1981 Ford LTD 351W/5.8L 2-vv 8.3 145 3.08
1981 Ford LTD 351W/5.8L-HO 2-vv 8.3 165 2.73
1982 Ford LTD 255/4.2L 2-bbl 8.2 122 3.08
1982 Ford LTD 302/5.0L 2-bbl 8.4 132 3.08
1982 Ford LTD 351W/5.8L-HO 2-vv 8.3 165 2.73
1983 Ford LTD Crown Vic 302/5.0L CFI 8.4 130 3.08
1983 Ford LTD Crown Vic 351W/5.8L-HO 2-vv 8.3 165 2.73
1984-1985 Ford Crown Vic 302/5.0L 8.4 140 3.55
1984-1985 Ford Crown Vic 351W/5.8L-HO 8.3 180 2.73
1986 Ford Crown Vic 302/5.0L 8.9 150 3.08
1986 Ford Crown Vic 351W/5.8L-HO 8.3 180 2.73
1987-1989 Ford Crown Vic 302/5.0L 8.9 160 3.08 (3.27 opt. 1988)
1987-1989 Ford Crown Vic 351W/5.8L-HO 8.3 180 2.73
1990-1991 Ford Crown Vic 302/5.0L 8.9 160 3.08, 3.27
1990-1991 Ford Crown Vic 351W/5.8L-HO 8.3 180 2.73

Michigan State Police Performance Test Results:

Vehicle Engine / Carb HP 0-100 MPH (Sec) Top Speed (MPH)
1979 Ford LTD 351 (2BBL) 142 63.3 105.4
1979 Ford LTD-S 351 172 37.3 120.5
1982 Ford LTD 351 165 42.54 115.8
1983 Ford LTD-CV 351 165 39.81 117.9
1984 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 40.36 118.1
1984 Ford Crown Vic 302 CFI 140 N/A 100.5
1985 Ford  Crown Vic 351 180 39.78 116.9
1985 Ford Crown Vic 302 CFI 140 59.14 104.4
1986 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 38.49 115.1
1986 Ford Crown Vic 302 PFI 150 46.57 106.1
1987 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 39.30 115.2
1987 Ford Crown Vic 302 PFI 160 43.47 109.2
1988 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 37.67 117.0
1988 Ford Crown Vic 302 EFI 160 40.62 108.0
1989 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 36.55 119.1
1989 Ford Crown Vic 302 PFI 160 42.14 110.0
1990 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 34.02 121.0
1990 Ford Crown Vic 302 PFI 160 38.67 107.3
1991 Ford Crown Vic 351 180 34.54 121.3
1991 Ford Crown Vic 302 PFI 160 40.98 107.6

More Photos:

Click the photos to enlarge.